- Solemnity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Patronal Feast of the Diocese of Wollongong)
- Readings for 11th Sunday of the Year, B.
- St Columbkille’s Catholic Church, Corrimal.
- Ezekiel 17:22-24; Mark 4:26-34
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- Watch full Mass here – with special guest Tongan choir leading us in song
What can we say the kingdom of God is like?
Ezekiel. Year 597 Babylon attacked Jerusalem. Defeated. King + princes taken into captivity and exiled to Babylon. The puppet king rebelled and tried to create an alliance with Egypt against the Babylonians. Babylon lays siege against Jerusalem and then utterly destroys it and the temple of Solomon in 587BCE.
Ezekiel – series of prophecies against Judah 12-24
- 17:22-24 about the only message of hope.
- Small seeds and shoots can be used by God to do mighty great things! The reversal.
- Small trees will be made to grow; the tall brought down low. Green trees will wither; the withered made green.
God didn’t want Israel because it was the best and greatest and strongest and most powerful. God chose Israel as the smallest + most insignificant. With tenderness God will care for the bush – day and night, sleeping + working. God’s action continues.
What can we say that the Kingdom of God is like?
Or to bring it a bit more locally: What can we say that it is to be a Christian? To be a parishioner at some corn pills.
What’s that like? What does it mean? I mean, as part of that process of the preparation for the Plenary Council the church across our country is asking this question. What is the Holy Spirit saying to us today? How do we respond?
And looking through some of the submissions so far, you know they’re very practical suggestions that are being made about how we can enhance the life of the parish.
How we can make the life of our Catholic community to be richer and stronger?
But that’s not the kind of answer that Jesus offers. I mean, those practical things are very important, very significant.
But Jesus doesn’t seem to be too fast, and even when he’s using these images of farmers and seeds.
He doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about the land and the soil, the preparation and the watering and and all of those things.
He seems to focus on things that are much more hidden. Things that happen not in the hustle and bustle, but in the silence. As he says, once the seed is planted – the farmer goes to bed at night. He sleeps. Then in the morning he wakes and goes about his ordinary day. But all of this background activity is happening. Sometimes we can be so caught up in the activity and the focus that we can lose the value of the silent and the hidden.
I mean in Mary we see this profound sense in the gospel of Luke, one of the things that is attributed to her is Mary pondering these things in her heart, pondering the word of God, allowing the word of God to to be there to be nurtured to to be evoked. The first place that Jesus is born, of course, is in her heart; in her life; in her silent assent to God.
And when the Angel appeared to, that was just the culmination of a whole series of ‘yeses’ that she had made – these little shoots that had taken root within her life. These little seeds that have been planted within her. This ability to profoundly say yes to God.
Our first reading today is quite marvellous. It’s by the prophet Ezekiel, and in the year 597 BC the Babylonians invaded. They took siege of Jerusalem and defeated the city. But they allowed the city to remain in Jewish hands, kind of. They took into captivity the king of of Israel and Judah at that point, and all of the princes, all of the the chief leaders of the people. And they appointed a puppet king to be the leader of Jerusalem at that time, and Ezekiel was one of the people that was taken in chains in exile to Babylon.
And when he begins the book of his prophecies in the book of Ezekiel, it’s five years later, so around the year 592, and he’s sitting by an irrigation channel there in Babylon, and he’s just pondering his situation. It’s his 30th birthday and back in Jerusalem he had been preparing to be a priest and the 30th birthday would have been the day that he would have been consecrated and ordained to be a priest within the Jewish faith.
And so all of that is lost as he’s sitting there in exile, wondering what on Earth is going on. What on Earth is all this about and in that moment he receives a vision and it’s the vision of these strange 4 winged creatures with four different heads formed in assembly, with their wings touching each other and above this chariot of these four creatures, is this throne and one like a human is seated there in all his glory, and he realises that he’s seeing a very vision of the image of God. But he’s like I’m in Babylon. I’m in exile away from Jerusalem. Surely the temple is still standing. Surely the the glory of the Lord should be back in Jerusalem.
But he sees that no, that the people have have a pasta size they’ve turned away from the Lord, but haven’t been faithful to the little seeds of life and faith that have been planted within them.
And so it begins. This series of prophecies that we read about in the first 11 chapters of the Book of Ezekiel, and then he begins a series of prophecies from Chapter 12 to 24 against Judah and against the people of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, and our reading today is is from that and the 17th chapter, like the 16th chapter, you know, it’s full of woes, and these terrible indictments against the people of Judah and Jerusalem. It’s these three verses that are out reading today are about the only highlight. The only light moment in this otherwise depressing tale of the failures of the people.
So often we can see the failures so often we can be overwhelmed by the things that have gone wrong in our world and in our society.
But even in that darkness there can be these little brief spells. They can these these little shoots of hope and joy and wonder. And Ezekiel sees this little stand that is planted and taken by the Lord from the very top of one of the Cedars. And you know, Cedars don’t bear fruit but this tree.
Miraculously, marvelously, indeed bears fruit justice. Mary Yu. Yes, in her absolute acceptance and surrender to God, bears that abundant fruit, or being the mother of the son of God, being the mother of our safe.
Yeah, so for us you know not to grow discouraged to know that sometimes it’s in the silence of our hearts.
It’s just in the prayers that we make. It’s in those little sacrifices and offerings that we make to God. It’s in those places in that moment the God is doing his most.
Profound and beautiful work. It’s not necessarily in the showy and miraculous and marvelous, you know, external events. It’s in the little moments of fidelity. It’s in those little experiences when we surrender and say yes to God.
That’s where the Kingdom of God is to be found. That’s where Jesus once again takes birth and finds life within our souls within our hearts.
It’s indeed be inspired by the example of Mary and give ourselves give our hearts so faithfully so fully to God and allow God’s work to continue to call us into that fidelity. Today, Lord wants to be a place where there people will find shelter to be that.
Shrub that comes from the smallest seeds to be a place where others are able to find nurturance and fine life.
So often you know the church can be thought of as a Baron instrument. So much of of this abundant fruit that’s been handed on to us by past generations has been lost and squandered and we need to accept that and realize that. But we also need to to see the signs of hope and to see those little seeds planted.
In silence, those little faithful seeds that continue to bear fruit. Let’s pray that in our hearts, that in our lives inspired by Mary, caught up in the love of Jesus.
That we will also be faithful to God that we also will give ourselves and surrender ourselves to the wonder of a God who continues to call us into life today.